Spring has sprung and the warmer weather heralds an increase in plant growth, finally! Are you noticing lots of weeds starting to come up in your garden? Believe it or not, this is a great sign that your garden soil is warm enough to start sowing seeds and plant seedlings.
Ripe for the picking
Leeks, parsnips, always sweeter after a good frost, broad beans, carrots, beetroot, kale, Caverlo Nero, spinach, silver beet, Brussels sprouts, watercress, Florence fennel, celeriac and salsify are all ready to enjoy. Rhubarb is particularly succulent at this time of year. To harvest pull the largest outside leaves, don’t cut them. Always leave a few stalks on the plant to maintain its vigour. Recycle the poisonous leaves in the compost. Chives are a great herb to have in the garden. They go well with eggs or when you require a mild onion flavour. You can sow seeds anytime indoors. Divide any large clumps you may have growing outside now to increase your plant numbers. In summer chives produce pink pom-pom-shaped flowers. They are great for attracting bees. Instead of boring old green mondo grass why not plant chives as an attractive edging plant? Try growing chives around the trunks of apple trees as a natural preventative of some apple diseases. Chervil looks a little like lacy parsley. It is an annual so needs to be re-sown each year. It is best to sow as seeds as the plant develops a tap root and doesn’t like to be transplanted. Plant in an area where is will receive shade, perhaps under tall beans or corn. If its leaves turn pink it is getting too much sun and is contemplating bolting to seed! Aphids apparently don’t like the smell of it so try planting it around your brassicas, strawberries, lettuce and tomatoes.
You may see new buds forming on some of your fruit trees. Now is the time to spray all your fruit trees with copper. This is a natural fungicide and will hopefully kill off any fungus which causes diseases such as leaf curl, black spot and powdery mildew. When I make up
www.greenurbanliving.co.nz the spray I add a squirt of washing up liquid to help the spray stick to the leaves. Choose a day which is warm, calm and dry, and a forecast which is dry for the next couple of days. Cover the tree with spray paying particular attention to the underside of the leaves and the trunk, especially the crevices where branches meet the trunk.
If you have a warm sunny spot start germinating tomato, capsicums, chilli and eggplant seeds inside. Sow seeds of peas, broad beans, carrots, leek, lettuce and silver beet directly in the garden. Plant out seedlings of Globe artichoke which you can normally find in the herb aisle at the garden centre. Once mature these are a striking plant with its spiky soft silver leaves. Don’t hide it in the vege garden, plant it in the front for everyone to admire. Plant asparagus crowns, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, onion, and silverbeet seedlings . If you want new potatoes to go with the turkey on Christmas day now is the time to sow early season potatoes. I grow Jersey Bennes and Swift as both only take around three months until ready to harvest. Only grow certified seeded potatoes, which are in the garden centres now. Put the potatoes in a sunny spot for a few weeks until they start to sprout. This is called Chitting, but don’t ask me where that word came from! Plant in a trench at least 30cm deep and back fill. As the leaves emerge cover again with soil, allowing the top of the leaves to be seen. Repeat this at least three times. Alternatively grow in a rubbish bin and repeat this process.